HOUSTON — After Lamar Miller went out with a season-ending knee injury in the preseason the Houston Texans needed someone to step in immediately to carry the running game.
Carlos Hyde has filled that role in the first two games, despite being with the team only two weeks after a trade from Kansas City on Aug. 31. Hyde ran for 90 yards on Sunday to help Houston to a 13-12 win over the Jaguars. That performance came after he had 83 yards rushing in the opener.
"I'm hungry," he said. "I'm out there on a mission. I've got a chip on my shoulder coming into this year. So I'm running angry, running mad, and it's been paying off for me."
He's one of two running backs the Texans acquired in August trades after they got Duke Johnson from Cleveland early in the month following D'Onta Foreman's release. Johnson added 31 yards rushing on Sunday after running for 57 yards against the Saints.
"(Hyde) runs hard, he's a smart guy," coach Bill O'Brien said. "He's learned the offense. He's learned his role in the offense. We want to continue to build with him and Duke. Both of those guys, they do a good job."
Hyde is thrilled to be contributing in Houston and believes he'll be able to do even more once he gets more comfortable with the offense.
"I'm still learning the offense, but it's definitely coming together for me," he said. "Each week, I've just got to keep getting better. I definitely feel like I'm starting to get into a groove, especially after this game. Things are starting to be a little easier for me."
On a day when Deshaun Watson wasn't able to complete many passes downfield, the running game kept the offense afloat. The Texans finished with 126 yards rushing against Jacksonville after running for 180 yards last week. Houston should only get stronger in this area as Hyde and Johnson have more time to work on things in practice.
WHAT NEEDS HELP
Houston needs to find a way to better protect Watson after he has been sacked 10 times combined in the first two games. The Texans traded for left tackle Laremy Tunsil on Aug. 31 to help improve their line after Watson was sacked an NFL-high 62 times last season, but so far his presence hasn't led to Watson being hit less.
OLB Whitney Mercilus. He had two tackles, two sacks, two quarterback hits and forced two fumbles against Jacksonville. His second forced fumble on Sunday was recovered by J.J. Watt and led to Houston's only touchdown. It's the second straight big game for the eight-year veteran after he had five tackles, including one for a loss, a sack, a quarterback hit and an interception against New Orleans.
RT Seantrel Henderson. The sixth-year player started the opener but was benched on Sunday for Roderick Johnson. Henderson was expected to help improve the line his return this season after sustaining a season-ending ankle injury in Houston's opener last season. Instead O'Brien had seen enough of him after just one game and moved on to Johnson, who appeared in one game last year after being signed from Houston's practice squad.
Tunsil briefly left the game in the second half after rolling his ankle, but he returned and finished and should be OK this week.
15 — The Texans have gotten at least one turnover in 15 straight games, the longest active streak in the NFL.
Houston's run blocking has been good through the first two games, with the team averaging 153 yards, but the pass protection needs to improve. It should as Tunsil gets more acclimated to working with his new teammates.
"Laremy's a great player and he learns very well," O'Brien said. "There's a lot of carry-over for him from Miami for him here. I think it's just a matter of getting used to who he's playing next to and the tempo at which we play and all of those different things. But Laremy's been a great addition to our football team."